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Will County board member wants to restrict leaf burning

Brock A. Stein | 4/26/2017, 1:48 p.m.
Will County Board member Tom Weigel wants to make it easier for residents who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ...

Will County Board member Tom Weigel wants to make it easier for residents who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments to be able to breathe easier during the fall season.

Weigel, who represents District 12 which includes Mokena and New Lenox, said that he’s heard from quite a few of his constituents about the breathing problems that burning leaves in the fall can cause.

Currently, unincorporated parts of Will County allow un-restricted burning of leaves which can aggravate respiratory ailments, he said, to the point that many “must stay indoors 7 days a week during the fall season.”

The only restriction, he said, was that burn piles must be at least 50 feet from a neighboring home or accessory building. That doesn’t help much however due to the far-reaching capacity for smoke which can travel much farther and is difficult to contain.

“The 50-foot limit is somewhat meaningless,” said Weigel.

Weigel sees two possible solutions including the complete banning of leaf burning all together or the alternate plan he’s encouraging the board to pursue which would limit leaf burning to two days per week—on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“Residents are accustomed to having their garbage picked up one day per week,” Weigel told the assembled board at their April 20 meeting.

“Restricting leaf burning to two days would be similar and they would soon adapt,” he said.

Weigel, who chairs the county’s land use and development committee, said the proposed ordinance change would not impact forest preserve districts, farmers or residents with fire pits, all of which would be exempt from the restriction.

Weigel said that he would be bringing the plan before the council in the near future.

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